So much for calling Group D, FIBA Women’s EuroBasket’s “Group of Death.” At least if you’re a Belgium women’s basketball team fan. They kicked off the group stage on the right foot with a 67-53 win over Russia.
Emma Meesseman was on fire, where she scored 29 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and dished two assists in the win. She was particularly strong in the first half, scoring 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting alone. She also made both of her threes to carry Belgium to a 40-32 lead.
However, Russia and Sparks center Maria Vadeeva scored 11 of her 20 points in the first half as well. In the second half, Vadeeva was able to power her team back into it, but the Belgians held Russia to just 7 points in the fourth quarter and forced them to commit 18 turnovers for the entire game. Things like that ultimately helped Belgium pull away at the end.
Bench scoring is something that Belgium will have to work on. Meesseman and Mestdagh started on a lineup that also featured point guard Julie Allemand, forward Antonia Delaere and center Kyara Linskens, but neither were serious offensive threats. Mestdagh was also quite shaky on offense early on, especially from three. But she ultimately scored 11 points.
If you’re wondering how the other players get it done, consider how Marjorie Carpreux drives to the basket when Meesseman passes her the ball.
Or how Julie Vanloo has the foresight to make a halfcourt pass to Mestdagh for a wide open layup.